In today’s corporate scenario, the synergy of a team is deemed essential for business survival and success. Still the importance of teams is often misunderstood. If starting a business is not always a team sport growing a business is. Collaborative practice and sustaining collaboration within a group structure or interpersonal real defines the trajectory that Tuckman (1965) elaborates in his group development model. This model will be discussed below in relation to the Plas Caerdeon school visit.
Miller (2009) posits that the number of organisations using team work is on the increase. As an integral tool in every corporate environment, teams aid immensely in amassing, organizing, relocating and dispersing diverse functions in an organization. Such advantages determine that team development ushers in an enabling atmosphere by encouraging cooperation, team work, interdependence and building intimacy among group members. Tuckman’s (1965) stages of group development model becomes a necessary appendage in evaluating the impact that group cohesion affords an organisation. According to this model, there are four phases of group development which include forming, storming, norming, performing. However, in 1977, he added a fifth stage called adjourning.
? Forming: This stage entails a high level of anxiety, behaviour observance and complementary notions among group members. At this stage the group defines its own rights and privileges, more like a concession by which a body is created. This also indicates bounds and limits with regards to group expectations. Preventing conflict is essential at this stage and commitment to a larger goal is encouraged to enable acquaintance and ease.
? Storming: This is the second stage in group development strategies. Here team members are anxious to create an impact with diverse ideologies on how to achieve goals. There are a variety of opinions as well as conflict encounters which sometimes ensues self-redundancy among group members as some may draw back into their shells for fear of criticism or team bullying. Due to increase in tension at this stage, good control, flexibility and open communication is paramount. Appreciation of diversity and team spirit is also publicly acknowledged so that team players can be more open and relaxed to exercise their rights and privileges.
? Norming: This stage is the third and it entails adopting team culture. Group members begin to recognize ways in which they have similar behaviours and blend easily. More social behaviour is noticed, and members get comfortable in scenarios that usher in good moments. In developing a unified norm, team pep talk, gatherings, meetings and training are encouraged to keep the team focused on set goals and targets. Since there is greater team participation, conflict resolution is of immense need to spur further unity of purpose.
? Performing: In the struggle for competition and survival, team competence is properly considered. In this stage team players are trained to be assertive, innovative and more resourceful towards challenges as the team grows. Every member of the group understands the roles to play and how relevant their motivation and team spirit can be in face of new challenges.
? Adjourning: This fifth stage was proposed in collaboration with Mary Ann Jensen in 1977. Here the task is completed with appraisals, measurements of performance and reassessing setbacks and challenges. The team is split up as sometimes there is re induction of new members to make up for lapses and the whole process starts again.
Plas Caerdeon Experience and the Tuckman Model
Education can be formal, informal or non-formal. Greenfield (2009) stipulates that there is a fundamental need to enhance learning processes through evolution in informal education involving field trips, and practices in non-traditional school settings. The visit to Plas Caerdeon offered that unique opportunity to blend formal learning with informal learning and it led to a reflective moment in which I could interrogate and apply relevant theories like the group development model of Tuckman. The chance to position my learning within group dynamics also enabled collaboration with other participants driven by different learning enhancement goals. We did a lot of activities there and the most striking one for me was the canoe paddling, across the river. We were assigned into small groups of six members in one of the canoes and tasked with pulling the canoe from one end of the river across to the opposite end. At first the group members were very nervous and not sure of what to do, extrapolating primary inference and personality and behavioural observation cropping in and inability to relate to group mates. This relates to Tuckman’s first stage of forming. In curbing this challenge we engaged and discussed strategies that will help drive the team forward by laying down rules and shared responsibilities. In the discussing phase, other members became silent allowing some dominant voices to take control. Tuckman refers to this stage as storming.
during storming each member of the team was given a paddle stick and positioned in a way such that the canoe could have good balance. However, this let to conflict as some members’ emotional characteristics took control over the objective debate noticed and Neuman and Wright (1999) explains the occasional disagreements as part of intergroup dynamics. In restoring confidence and positive morale to the group I assumed a leadership role and explained to my team the essence of following agreed rules and strategies of the group, and we sailed across the river to the other end. Reflecting on the process, I am encouraged to note that conflicts are part of a developing group process and how these conflicts re resolved form part of group stability. Keeping a group focused on tasks (norming) requires compromise and reconciliation of differing emotional and social characteristics of group members.
After the canoe task, we designed a brand using a duck and presented it to the apprentice for a prize. We achieved this task by sharing the responsibility among ourselves by allocating each segment of the design to each member of the team, and there was flock of ideas and disagreement on how the product should be designed (Tuckman and Jensen, 1977), This went on for about five minutes until we came to compromise on the best strategies for our brand. We designed a toy duck with nursery music rhyme songs that is waterproof and kids friendly, that could be used in the bath when bathing kids and at the same time listening to music. Our group emerged as winners and it was easier to use previously acquired competencies from the canoe task to easily resolve issues with the second task. Performing and adjourning (fourth and fifth stages of Tuckman’s model) became apparent at this level.
The Tuckman model is an effortless model used for developmental stages, and it provided our group during the Plas Caerdeon visit, with a framework and operative lens for observing practice background. However recent theories recognized the complexity of group dynamics in today’s world, and the wide organizational and workplace disputes mean that experts have access to information about various specialized areas of group development such as leadership, motivation, and rewards. These theories are exponentially widened and profound more than Tuckman’s original model. Despite this, the Tuckman’s model has been valuable for nearly 45 years and provided a simple, accessible starting point for discussions around strategic problems of group dynamics and settings not diminished.